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Engagement and Satisfaction: Mixed-Method Analysis of Blended Learning in the Sciences

Abstract

Recent advancements in technology and increased globalization due to the internet have led to the development and popularization of asynchronous teaching formats. One of these is blended learning (BL), which combines online and physically in-person learning. While it is widely agreed that BL formats lead to measurable increases in student performance, little is understood about the relationship between student satisfaction and improved performance. We conducted an analysis of student and instructor feedback collected from surveys and interviews from four science courses converted from physically co-located to BL formats at a Canadian university. We specifically probed students’ experiences of BL, and student satisfaction in the blended format. We find that emotional engagement is a broadly applicable predictor of student satisfaction and success in BL courses. Specifically, we recommend instructors maintain personal connection with students, use collaborative active learning strategies, and emphasize alignment of learning activities with learning objectives. These may enhance the student experience and minimize challenges that have become characteristic of asynchronous teaching formats.

Résumé

Les récents progrès technologiques et l’accroissement de la mondialisation en raison d’internet ont conduit à l’avènement et à la diffusion des modèles pédagogiques asynchrones. Parmi ceux-ci, la formation par apprentissage hybride (AH) intègre aux méthodes traditionnelles d’enseignement en personne l’apprentissage en ligne. Bien qu’il soit généralement reconnu que les modèles AH entrainent une hausse mesurable du rendement des étudiants, on en sait très peu sur les raisons qui expliquent l’efficacité de la formation par apprentissage hybride et les relations qui existent entre le niveau de satisfaction des apprenants et l’amélioration de leur rendement. Nous avons analysé les commentaires provenant d’étudiants et d’enseignants d’une université canadienne dans quatre cours de sciences passés du mode d’enseignement en personne au modèle AH, recueillis à partir de sondages et d’entrevues. Plus précisément, nous avons sondé les expériences des étudiants en matière de formation AH et leur niveau de satisfaction par rapport au modèle hybride. Nous constatons que l’investissement sur le plan affectif constitue un indicateur significatif du niveau de satisfaction et de réussite des étudiants dans les cours en modes AH. Plus précisément, nous recommandons aux enseignants de cultiver un lien personnel avec les étudiants, d’utiliser des stratégies d’apprentissage actives et coopératives et de mettre l’accent sur l’alignement des activités et des objectifs d’apprentissage. Ces mesures peuvent rehausser l’expérience des étudiants et atténuer les défis normalement associés aux modèles pédagogiques asynchrones.

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Data Availability

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study may be available from the corresponding author on reasonable request as some data may be confidential. Additionally, participants did not consent to the storage of the datasets on a data repository or the release of individualized data.

Notes

  1. For all four courses, there were no differences in results between FIRST, LAST, LMG, and PRATT bootstrap measures.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Norma Nocente and Francisco Vargas L. M. of the Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Alberta for their work in collecting the original data set and for sharing their work for our analysis.

Funding

The research was supported by four teaching awards from The Centre for Teaching and Learning at the University of Alberta. The awards were used to fund the conversion of courses into the blended learning formats analysed here.

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Correspondence to Stephen Lane.

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Lane, S., Hoang, J.G., Leighton, J.P. et al. Engagement and Satisfaction: Mixed-Method Analysis of Blended Learning in the Sciences. Can. J. Sci. Math. Techn. Educ. 21, 100–122 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42330-021-00139-5

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Keywords

  • Blended learning
  • Science education
  • Satisfaction
  • Emotional engagement
  • Cognitive engagement
  • Behavioural engagement